Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

Archbishop-to-be was communist collaborator: church

Stanislaw Wielgus, who is poised to be sworn in as Catholic archbishop of Warsaw, collaborated with Poland's hated communist-era secret police, a church investigative commission said yesterday.

"There exist numerous, important documents which show that Father Stanislaw Wielgus said he was ready to collaborate, in a conscious and secret manner, with the communist security services, and that he had begun that collaboration," the investigative commission of the Polish Roman Catholic espiscopate said in a statement.

Wielgus is at the centre of a storm over his past, after Polish media in recent days published files showing that he was recruited by the Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa (SB) secret police in 1967 when he was a 28-year-old philosophy student and continued to collaborate with its agents for two decades.

Wielgus has acknowledged having met with SB agents -- particularly ahead of foreign trips, something required of all Poles at the time -- but has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

"I did not spy on anyone, and I have done no harm either in words or deeds," Wielgus said in a statement on Friday.

"I am being accused of bad intentions and bad behaviour towards the church. That is false," he said.

Wielgus, 67, is due to take office later Friday.

A leading religious academic and currently bishop of Plock in northern Poland, he was nominated last month by the Vatican to replace Cardinal Jozef Glemp.

Glemp, the Polish church and the Vatican have all stood behind him.

But the scandal is rocking Poland, where more than 90 percent of the 38.5-million-strong population profess to be Roman Catholic and where the four-decade communist regime which fell in 1989 remains a sensitive subject.